Articles Posted in Construction Accidents

A 53-year-old construction worker was riding down a hotel elevator when it malfunctioned. The elevator dropped more than two floors and came to a hard stop as the emergency brake engaged. The worker was wearing a work belt with heavy carpenter tools on it. He was thrown into a metal instrument panel. The worker suffered herniated disks at C4-5 and L5-S1 and a left shoulder labrum tear that required surgery.

The construction worker continued to suffer pain and limited range of motion in his neck, back and shoulder. His medical bills total $236,000.

As a master carpenter, the worker was not able to return to the same level of carpentry that he did in the past. He now does part-time carpentry work.

Continue reading

A lawsuit was brought on behalf of the plaintiff, Gerardo Solis, alleging negligence and strict liability because his lungs were injured by a synthetic chemical that he used while working in a flavoring company. At the trial court level, the judge entered a directed verdict in favor of Solis on the defendant distributor’s claim that the action was barred by the statute of limitations.

The Solis claim was that his lungs were injured while he worked with diacetyl, a synthetic chemical used in artificial butter flavoring. Solis’s claim was that the defendant BASF Corp. (BASF) and one of the distributors failed to warn of the dangerous product and was negligent in allowing its use by its employees.

After a jury heard this case at trial, it returned a verdict for $32 million in favor of Solis, and BASF appealed. At the core of the appeal was that BASF claimed that the trial court erred by directing a verdict in favor of Solis on BASF’s statute of limitations defense. BASF had argued that there was evidence that Solis was aware of his lung injury and its wrongful cause more than two years before this suit was filed.

Continue reading

After the collapse of a bridge deck on Route 154 near Sparta, Ill., the general contractor, Keeley & Sons, used a jackhammer to break up the concrete I-beam that allegedly caused the accident.

Three workers were on the bridge deck when it collapsed. The issue in this case was whether there was a duty of the defendant, Keeley & Sons, to preserve evidence. The Illinois Supreme Court held there were insufficient facts to establish a duty on Keeley & Sons based on a voluntary undertaking.

The trial court in St. Clair County, Ill., entered an order granting summary judgment for Keeley & Sons finding that it had no duty to preserve the I-beam after this occurrence. The appellate court had reversed the summary judgment order, but the Supreme Court has now reversed the appellate court and affirmed the trial court’s decision.

Continue reading

In a close case decided by the Illinois Appellate Court, Third District, defendant Will County Washington Township was held responsible for injuries suffered by occupants of an automobile in an accident that was alleged to have been caused by Washington Township roadway construction.

In this case, Ricky Robinson Sr. allegedly lost control of his car after hitting a pothole and construction debris on a roadway that was being fixed by Washington Township in Will County. The Robinson car turned over, injuring Rick Robinson Jr., Mr. Robinson’s son, a passenger in the car.

A lawsuit was brought against the township on behalf of Rick Jr., who was a minor, by his mother, alleging that the township was negligent because:

Continue reading

Renardo Lynch was working as a mechanic for Metra when the top rail of a chain-link fence he was installing fell on him. He injured the back of his neck and shoulders. In a lawsuit that was filed under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act, 45 U.S.C. 51, (FELA), the lower court granted a summary judgment motion brought by Metra. Lynch took this appeal to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

Lynch was hired by Metra in 1987 in the track department but was moved to bridges and building where he held a number of different positions. When Lynch was injured, he was working as a bridge and building mechanic. Part of that job was installing fences at railroad crossings and depots. Although Metra did provide some training regarding these duties, no training was given to Lynch in installing fencing.

The installation of fences was a routine job done several times per month. When Lynch was injured, he was being assisted by a co-worker installing the mesh part of the fence; they were on their knees next to each other tightening brackets at the bottom of the fence post. The top rail of the fence fell, hitting Lynch across the back of his neck and shoulders. Lynch missed 28-30 days of work. Metra acknowledged that there was nothing Lynch or his co-workers did to cause the pole to fall.

Continue reading

Manufacturers have an obligation to make their products safe for regular use. However, how far does this obligation extend? Are manufacturers required to make it overly difficult for consumers to modify their products? A recent Illinois Appellate Court decision examines to what extent manufacturers are liable for after-market modifications made to their products; Geronimo Perez v. Sunbelt Rentals, Inc., et al., Nos. 2-11-0382, 2-11-0486 cons (April 9, 2012).

In January 2008, Geronimo Perez was injured while using a scissor lift machine manufactured by JLG Industries. In his product liability lawsuit, Perez claimed that his injury could have been prevented if there had been a guardrail on the scissor lift machine. What is interesting about Perez is that JLG Industries had installed a guardrail when it designed its scissor lift; however, someone had removed the guardrail after the scissor lift machine left JLG’s factory.

So while JLG Industries had designed its scissor lift machine so that falls like Perez’s would be prevented, someone unconnected to the company had removed that safety feature. Yet Perez alleged that JLG was liable because it should have foreseen that someone would remove that guardrail, thereby causing his subsequent fall. JLG countered that it was not responsible for modifications others made to its product and that its scissor lift machine’s design was not defective.

Continue reading

While not every civil lawsuit requires a party to hire an expert, there are some instances where an expert’s opinion and testimony are vital to the case’s outcome. For example, if a plaintiff is making medical malpractice claims against a doctor or hospital, he or she will likely hire a medical expert to help support those claims. Likewise, in a product liability lawsuit, a party would generally need to hire some sort of expert to help prove that there was in fact a design or manufacturing defect. The vital nature of these experts’ testimony means that if for some reason those experts’ opinions are barred, the plaintiff will have an extremely difficult time proving the defendant’s negligence.

This is exactly what happened in the product liability lawsuit of Raymond Bielskis v. Louisville Ladder, Inc., No. 10-1194 (November 18, 2011). Bielskis filed a lawsuit against Louisville Ladder in which he claimed that its scaffolding design was defective and caused his work injury. In order to prove his claims, Bielskis’s attorneys had hired an engineering expert. After the trial court barred the engineering expert’s testimony, Bielskis filed an appeal in which he asked the court to reinstate his expert’s testimony.

Bielskis arose out of a fall Bielskis had while using a scaffold constructed by Louisville Ladder. Bielskis had originally purchased the scaffold in 1997 while working as an acoustical ceiling carpenter for R.G. Construction. During that time, Bielskis was responsible for providing the equipment and scaffolding for most of his jobs. However, in 2001, Bielskis began working for International Decorators, who generally supplied its workers with scaffolding equipment. As a result, Bielskis rarely used his Louisville Ladder scaffold after switching employers in 2001.

Then in 2005, Bielskis decided to use his Louisville Ladder scaffold on a job. Bielskis inspected the scaffold’s condition before using it; however, not noting any problems, Bielskis determined it was safe to use. But when he placed his weight onto one of the scaffold’s caster stems, the scaffold broke and collapsed. Bielskis fell and injured himself; that scaffolding injury is the subject of the current lawsuit.

Continue reading

Compared to many jobs, construction work is a dangerous field. For most office workers, their job’s safety policies involve emergency situations, like a fire. However, for construction workers, safety policies and procedures are a part of their every day tasks. These safety policies and procedures are helps many construction site injuries and are essential to decreasing the number of injured construction workers.

Therefore, when these policies and procedures are not in place, the likelihood of a construction site injury increases. In the New York case of Carmona v. Dormitory Authority of New York, No. 303798/08 (N.Y., Bronx Co. June 10, 2011), a construction worker filed a personal injury lawsuit alleging that his work injury was caused by a lack of safety procedures.

Forty-one year-old Raymond Carmona was working as an ironworker at the time of his injury. Carmona was in the process of removing an old steel awning from a New York building owned by the Dormitory Authority of New York when he struck his head on a duct. Carmona lost his balance and fell 25 feet to the ground below. As a result of the fall, Carmona fractured his coccyx and sacrum and severely injured his lower back. His injuries eventually required a fusion surgery to his lower back, severely limiting his future mobility.

Continue reading

An Illinois construction worker’s lawsuit was dismissed after the trial judge found that the plaintiff had failed to show sufficient evidence to support his claim against the one of the construction job subcontractors. While the plaintiff attempted to overturn this ruling in his appeal, the Illinois Appellate Court agreed with the trial court, thereby dismissing the plaintiff’s Illinois construction injury claims against the ironwork subcontractor. Oshana v. FCL Builders.pdf.

The personal injury claim was based on an injury that occurred at the Willow Inn construction site. Plaintiff Anwar Oshana was working as an ironworker for JAK Ironworks when he fell from a steel beam. Oshana filed a personal injury claim against Suburban Ironworks, the site’s ironwork subcontractor that was responsible for fabricating and delivering the project’s structural steel. Oshana claimed that Suburban Ironworks was responsible for ensuring that the steel was erected in a safe manner.

However, Suburban Ironworks argued that it was not responsible for JAK Ironworks’s employees safety. Suburban Ironworks pointed out that it did not have an ongoing presence at the job site and therefore was not responsible for overseeing the safety of the various employees involved in erecting its steel structures. Under this theory, Suburban Ironworks moved to dismiss the case on the basis that Oshana had not presented sufficient evidence to show that Suburban had control of the construction site. The trial judge agreed and dismissed Oshana’s claim against Suburban Ironworks, a decision that Oshana then appealed.

Continue reading

The Illinois Appellate Court recently entered a ruling on whether or not the payment of a workers’ compensation lien cancels out a party’s contribution claim. The court found that while a contribution claim is not eliminated when a workers’ compensation lien is waived following a jury verdict, it is null and void when the lien is waived following a settlement. Scott McMackin v. Weberpal Roofing.pdf.

Scott McMackin owned and operated his own construction company, McMackin Construction Company. In August 2006, Scott was working on a construction site when he was injured. Scott sued Weberpal Roofing, the construction contractor, for negligence in causing his construction site injury. In turn, Weberpal Roofing filed a third-party contribution claim against McMackin Construction under the Illinois Joint Tortfeasor Contribution Act.

And while Scott’s personal injury case against Weberpal Roofing settled for $450,000; Weberpal’s claim against McMackin remained unsettled. However, following Scott’s settlement, McMackin Construction sought to dismiss Weberpal’s claim by filing an affirmative defense. In its filing, McMackin Construction pointed to the fact that it had waived its workers’ compensation lien following Scott’s settlement with Weberpal. Because Scott worked for McMackin Construction, it had been responsible for paying Scott $134,797 under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act for the injury he sustained while at work.

According to McMackin Construction’s defense, the $134,797 was the maximum amount that Weberpal was entitled to recover from McMackin under its third-party contribution claim. However, Weberpal had relinquished its right to recover those funds when McMackin waived its workers’ compensation lien for Weberpal’s settlement. The trial court agreed with McMackin and dismissed Weberpal’s third-party claim; however, Weberpal appealed this decision to the Illinois Appellate Court.

Continue reading